Wednesday, February 22, 2006

WPT Invitational - Day 1

Some of the brightest stars are out in numbers at Commerce Casino for the annual WPT Invitational, where some of the top names in Hollyweird are rubbing shoulders with poker's elite. As the name suggests, this is an invitation only event so this was the hottest ticket in town. And yes, I wiggled myself an invite.

Change100 asked me this morning of there was going to be a red carpet at the WPT Invitational. She's used to those sorts of things cause she worked in Hollyweird, and I quickly scoffed at the notion, "It's just a poker tournament."

My oh my, I was wrong bigtime. This is not just a poker tournament. It's a Hollywood Poker Tournament. With all the glitz and cheesyness factor rolled into one messy poker burrito. As soon as I drove into the parking lot, I saw the tent and red carpet ready to great limos and Hummers. I had to get new press badge for the event and fumbled through that process. It was border line hellish and reminded me of a scene from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, when Hunter S. Thompson stumbled into the Mint Hotel to check in under a head full of liquid sunshine. I was not mentally prepared for the zoo of paparazzi, with photographers following camera crews and publicists shuffling their clients down the media line, as the Commerce was flooded with reps from several mainstream media outlets. Of course they got first priority, while the normal poker press like Card Player and Poker Wire got pushed to the back of the line. Lucky for me, I mentioned that I wrote for Fox Sports and they quickly ushered me to the front in between Access Hollyweird and the local ABC affiliate.

"Kent Brockman News 4," one news anchor said to me as he shook my hand. His name wasn't really Kent Brockman, but he reminded me of a cross between Kent Brockman from The Simpsons and J. Peterman from Seinfeld.

"Pauly. Doctor Pauly. Fox Sports and the Tao of Poker," I slurred in between sips of my Seven & Seven.

I never drink those. But Ron Rose was drinking Seven & Sevens when I shot the shit with him while we stood in line. And he's a WPT Champion so if it works for him, it works for me. The hallway upstairs was cluttered with banquet tables serving random food. I liked the chocolate covered strawberries. I found the open bar quickly and that's where I realized I could find some of your favorite pros getting sauced up for the event.
Last 5 Pros I Saw at the Open Bar:
1. Ron Rose
2. John Gale
3. Tony G
4. Men the Master
5. Mark Seif
And yes, Men the Master was knocking back Coronas. I stood in the corner with the Poker Wire girls as we watched the security guards turn away big time pros from entering. This is work for some of the media folks and it was hard to enjoy yourself at a cocktail party when you have work looming overhead. I have no problems drinking on the job, so I headed back for a refill.

I didn't work the room. I hate schmoozing people and kissing their asses. If I dig something, I usually keep it to myself. I chatted mostly with Jen Leo and John Caldwell from Poker News. I found Foiled Coup too. Jen Leo cornered Jon Favreau and he told her that his show Dinner for Five will not be on anymore. John Caldwell is a music guy and he was talking to the drummer from No Doubt.

I finally went inside to take photos as they seated everyone. I will post a gallery of photos at the end of this entry.

***** Live Blogging Update *****

7:07pm... Cards are in the air. About 317 players are here.

7:10pm... Here's who's palying: Amir Vahedi, Alan Goehring, Amnon Filippi, Antonio Esfandiari, Bill Edler, Bill Gazes, Brad Berman, Capt. Tom Franklin, Carmel Petresco, Clonie Gowen, Cyndy Violette, Dan Alspach, Daniel Alaei, Daniel Negreanu, Danny Masterson, David "Chino" Rheem, David Levi, David Sutcliffe, Doyle Brunson, Eli Elezra, Erick Lindgren, Erik Seidel, Evelyn Ng, Gavin Smith, Chau Giang, Gus Hansen, Isabelle Mercier, J.C. Tran, Jean-Robert Bellande, Joanne Liu, John Juanda, John Phan, Jon Kelley, Kenna James, Kristy Gazes, Laura Prepon, Lilly Elvira, Liz Lieu, Lyle Berman, Mario Ho, Men "The Master" Nguyen, Michael Michrachi, Mike Sexton, Mike Wattel, Minh Nguyen, Nenad Medic, Phil Laak, Robert Mizrachi, Scotty Nguyen, Shannon Elizabeth, Steve Brecher, Todd Brunson, Joe Sebok, Josh Arieh, Scott Lazar, Jeff Rine, Humberto Brenes, Adrian Young from No Doubt, Anne Heche, Billy Burke, Boyd Coddington, Camryn Manheim, Carlos Bernard, Cheryl Hines, Chau Giang, Chris Masterson, Christopher Rich, AlCantHang, Cindy Margolis, Coleman Laffoon, David Norrie, David Sutcliffe, Dick Van Patten, Erik Palladino, Gavin Maloof, Jack Black, James Garner, James Woods, Jason Alexander, Jean Smart, Jennifer Tilly, Jon Favereau, Josh Morrow, Kathy Griffin, Kevin Weisman, Kyle Gass, Lou Gossett, Jr., Lou Diamond Phillips, Marissa Jaret Winokur, Matthew Lillard, Meatloaf, Mimi Rogers, Morris Chestnut, Norm McDonald, Patrick Labyorteaux, Richard Kind, Ricki Lake, Rossi Morreale, Sam Simon, Shannon Elizabeth, Stephen Collins, Tom Everett Scott, Wil Wheaton, Willie Garson, Mark Gregorich, Mike Matusow, Patrik Antonius, and Jesse Jones.

7:14pm... Joe Sebok, Clonie Gowen, Mike Matusow, Men the Master, and Amir Vahedi are all at the same table.

7:15pm... Wil Wheaton was playing and he was late due to an audition, but finally arrived. He originally was seated at a table with the 2006 WPT Commerce Champion Alan Goehring and The Grinder. Lucky his seat got filled and he found himself at a table with Mike Sexton, Jason Alexander, and Thomas Everett Scott, who was the celebrity who lasted the longest in the 2005 WPT Invitationa;. I told Wheaton that I'd pay out bounties... $27 to any Scientologist that he busted. I also told him he'd get $100 if he busted anyone with The Hammer.

7:40pm... Recent Elimiantions: Norm MacDonald is out. Steve Z busted along with Cheryl Hines from Curb Your Enthusiasm. She truned trip Jacks with A-J but was rivered by a two outer.

8:00pm... We have to set up in the far hallway, so I can't see the action. I have to do updates and run inside. I'm sweating Wil and watching Isabelle Mercier's table. Ohhh la la. Eat your heart out Mean Gene, or as the say in France... Mangez votre coeur hors de Gene moyen.

8:10pm... Recent Eliminations: Arnold Spee is out. He lost with top pair to someone who flopped a set.

8:15pm... Wil Wheaton folded the Hammer to a raise. It would have won with a Seven high straight.

8:20pm... Recent Elimination: Liz Lieu is out and she begged me not to post it! Her AKs lost to A5s. The river gave Liz a straight, but gave her opponent a nut flush. She wanted me to make sure that my brother Derek knew that she said, "Hello." Looks like Derek's got a big fan!

8:30pm... Players were on a break. I asked Jon Favereau how he was doing.

"I'm up but it's not because I'm good," he said.

Isabelle Mercier updated me on her progress. "I had 15K, now I have 7. I made a stupid play and lost to a fucking flush."

I love hearing F-bombs roll off the tongue of hot women, especially with French accents.

Wheaton and I did an interview in the hallway and we ogled at Jen Tilly's boobs. That is some prime real estate, let me tell you. Mimi Rogers is stunning in real life.

8:47pm... Recent Elimination: Boston Rob is out, along with Allen Cunningham.

8:51pm... So close, yet so far. Here's an actual conversation that I had with a random B-list female celebrity while I was waiting to interview Wheaton.
"Oh my God, you're Dr. Pauly!! I love your blog," she said.

"Really?" I answered as I faked aloofness. "Thanks for reading."

"Yeah, I read you all the time. My boyfriend show me your site during the WSOP. Now I read everyday."
She had me at "Oh!" and lost me with "boyfriend." Of course she has a boyfriend. What hot chick doesn't? Just when I thought I had a shot of bedding a bona fide Hollyweird B-lister, I was brought back down to the harsh reality that I'm still a ugly duckling in a pond of swans. When I realized that I had less than a 2% chance of seeing her naked, I quickly folded.

9:01pm... Recent Elimination: Amanda from Poker Wire told me that Daniel Negreanu busted Carlos Mortenson.

9:15pm... Recent Elimination: Rob Mizrachi, Cindy Margolis, James Krazy Kanuck Worth, and Barry Shulman.

9:20pm... Wil Wheaton update: He's got 13K in chips. You have to file this post under.... Former Star Trek Actor bluffs former Seinfeld actor out of a pot. Yep, Wheaton made a move on Alexander. Wesley Crusher 1, George Costanza 0.

9:35pm... Erick Lindgren folded the Hiltons when Riki Lake moved all in on him. He knew she had him beat and folded. She flashed pocket aces.

9:40pm... Recent Eliminations: Daniel Negreanu is out when his 4-4 lost to A-Ks. Jen Tilly is out as well and is giving a bustout interview with the WPT crew. Jean-Robert Bellande is gone too.

9:55pm... Recent Eliminations: Chip Jett is out. Amnon Filippi busted Chris Masterson. Allen Kessler sent Tom Everett Scott to the rail. Scott moved all in with K-8 and Kessler called with A-K. Jeff Rine is also out.

10:01pm... Recent Elimination: Matt Lillard is out. Joe Sebok is gone as well. He was crippled when he lost a three-way pot. Mel Judah had A-A, Sebok had A-K and a third player had 8-8. The third guy flopped a set of 8s. A few hands later, Sebok was out.

10:15pm... Players are on a break. Wheaton has 15K. During my interview we walked to get a hotdog. We bumped into Matt Laborteaux and his wife. He was in one of my favorite movies of all time. He played Ed in Ski School. He's still in the hunt.
Last 5 Celebrities I Took a Piss Next To:
1. Lou Diamond Philips
2. Danny Masterson
3. Richard Kind
4. Rob from Survivor
5. Matt Lillard
10:25pm... Recent Elimination: Richard Kind is out when he was sent to the rail by Bill Edler. James Woods is out along with Men the Master, who got sent to the rail by Mike Matusow.

10:30pm... Wheaton told me a funny quote. He overheard Mike Matusow corner Matt Savage. "You call this a celebrity tournament? I'm at a table with nine fuckin' pros!"

10:40pm... Nick "Takeover" Schulman and Scott Fischman have over 50K in chips. Isabelle Merceir has 19K in chips.

10:43pm... Recent Elimination: Stuttering John is ooooooooooooooo-ut.

10:45pm... Wil Wheaton Update: John Juanda joined Wheaton's table and he flashed me a look of, "Oh shit!"

10:52pm... Recent Elimination: Wil Wheaton sent John Juanda to the rail. With just 900 in chips, Juanda was all in with K-Q. Wheaton had A-A and flopped an ace! Juanda was sent to the rail and Wheaton has over 16K now.

10:55pm... Recent Eliminations: James Garner, Huck Seed, Amir Vahedi, David "The Dragon" Pham, Ricki Lake, Mike Sexton, Hung La, Jan Fisher, Vince Van Patten, David Wells, Mark Gregorich, Robert Varkonyi, Steve Brecher, Miami John Cernuto, David Plastik, David Chiu, Capt. Tom Franklin, Phil Laak, and Louis Asmo are all out. Ricki Lake had her K-K snapped off by Erick Lindgren's Hilton Sisters.

11:01pm... Recent Eliminations: Tony G and Jerry Buss are both out.

11:30pm... Recent Elimination: Anne Heche is out.

11:45pm... Recent Eliminations: Allyn Shulman, Camryn Manheim, Tom McEvoy, John Phan, Chau Giang, Erick Lindgren, Mark Seif, Antonio Esfandiari, and Nenad Medic.

12:15am... Wil Wheaton Update: With 16K, Wheaton was moved to a new table. He's got Allen Kessler, Joanne Liu, Barry Greenstien, John Kelley, and Jon Favreau at his table. On the brink of elimiantion, Favreau was all in with 4-4 in a three way pot against Barry Greenstien's A-A and John Kelley's A-Q. He spiked a 4 on the river for a set to triple up.

12:20am... One drunk guy is yelling at Shannon Elizabeth's table, "American Pie girl! American Pie girl! I have some rose petals for you."

12:30am... Recent Elimiantions: David Williams, Mel Judah, John Kelley, The Grinder, Linda Johnson, and Lou Diamond Phillips are all out. Willie Garson is also out. As he walked past media row he muttered, "This is the walk of shame. I cannot believe she made that terrible call. She's an awful player."

12:40am... Play is over for the night. About 10 tables left and somethinglike 90 players remaining. Stay tuned for final numbers and a complete photo gallery. Wil Wheaton survived day one. He has a little more than 17K in chips. Action will resume at 6pm on Thursday.

3:01am... Here's a gallery of photos from tonight's event. There are over 30. Feel free to click on each image to see an enlarged view.

James Woods

Isabelle "No Mercy" Mercier

Daniel Negreanu

Dick Van Patten

VVP (Far left) and Liz Lieu

Dan Alspach & Patrik Antonious

Monkey Poker

Paul Darden & Tom McEvoy

David Williams

Evy Ng

WSOP Ladies Champion Jen Tilly

Clonie Gowen & Joe Sebok

"All you can eat, baby!"

Ricki Lake & Erick Lindgren

Former Star Trek actor plays poker

Layne says, "I'm gonna raise your blind every time!"

Jason Alexander, Willie Garson (in background), and Mike Sexton

My office...

Todd Brunson

Isabelle at work

Max "The Italian Pirate" Pescatori


Lou Gossett, Jr. and Gus Hansen in a deep conversation

Cowboy Kenna James

Dr. Jerry Buss

Jon Favreau moments before cracking Barry Greenstien's aces

Wil plays with Barry Greenstien (far right)

Blair Rodman & Phil "I Can Dodge Bullets" Hellmuth

Shannon Elizabeth & Al Ardebili

Danny Masterson & Gentleman John Gale

More Wil

Jesse Jones

Humberto Brenes

Wil survives Day 1 of the WPT Invitational

See you at 6pm PCT for Day 2 for more live blogging updates. Wil got a good draw for Day 2. Here's Wil's seating assignment couresty of Poker Wire:
Day 2 - Wil's Table:
Seat 1: Steve Lipscomb $47,900
Seat 2: Amnon Filippi $34,700
Seat 3: Wil Wheaton $17,500
Seat 4: Scott Fischman $94,600
Seat 5: Tom Lock $34,600
Seat 6: Adriano Zimonyi $47,300
Seat 7: Coley Laffoon $61,300
Seat 8: Judson Swimner $58,600
Seat 9: Blair Rodman $25,900

End of Day 1 CHipcounts:
1 Ugur Marangoz $ 96,800
2 Scott Fischman $ 94,600
3 John Gale $ 92,700
4 Shawn Buchanan $ 76,600
5 Joe Cassidy $ 68,400
6 An Lu $ 68,300
7 Jason Alexander $ 63,700
8 Lee Watkinson $ 62,100
9 Coley Laffoon $ 61,300
10 Alan Goehring $ 61,300
11 Judson Swimner $ 58,600
12 Quinn Do $ 55,000
13 Dante Oliveto $ 54,700
14 Phil Hellmuth $ 54,300
15 Matt Carboy $ 53,400
16 Jeff Liebster $ 53,100
17 Bill Edler $ 52,100
18 Will Alaimo $ 48,400
19 Isabelle Mercier $ 48,100
20 Steve Lipscomb $ 47,900
21 Adriano Zimonyi $ 47,300
22 Chad Brown $ 45,300
23 Evelyn Ng $ 42,700
24 Craig Hartman $ 42,200
25 David Prat $ 41,600
26 Gus Hansen $ 41,200
27 David Norrie $ 38,100
28 Denny Williams $ 36,200
29 Amnon Filippi $ 34,700
30 Tom Lock $ 34,600
31 Audrey Kania $ 34,100
32 Steven Dannenmann $ 33,200
33 Humberto Brenes $ 32,700
34 Barry Greenstein $ 32,300
35 Clonie Gowen $ 32,000
36 Johan Storakers $ 30,400
37 John Esposito $ 30,200
38 Allen Kessler $ 29,700
39 Todd Brunson $ 28,300
40 Noli Francisco $ 28,200
41 Scott Jensen $ 27,400
42 Mimi Rogers $ 26,500
43 Jesse Jones $ 26,500
44 Jimmy Tran $ 26,400
45 Blair Rodman $ 25,900
46 Steve Diamatas $ 25,600
47 Davood Mehrmand $ 24,700
48 Matt Smith $ 24,300
49 Andy Goetsch $ 24,300
50 Matt Lefkowitz $ 23,400
51 Herman Zango $ 23,200
52 Louis Drogin $ 22,900
53 Tuan Le $ 22,500
54 Paul Darden Jr. $ 22,400
55 Tony Cousineau $ 22,400
56 Jared Smith $ 22,300
57 Jon Favreau $ 22,000
58 Hoyt Corkins $ 21,700
59 Lynette Chan $ 21,200
60 Ali Sarkeshik $ 21,200
61 Kevin Weisman $ 21,100
62 Gavin Smith $ 20,400
63 Casey Kastle $ 19,300
64 Alexander Stevic $ 18,900
65 Sam Simon $ 18,400
66 Nick Schulman $ 17,700
67 Danny Masterson $ 17,700
68 Wil Wheaton $ 17,500
69 Rossi Morreale $ 16,200
70 Bob Van Horne $ 14,700
71 Nam Le $ 14,600
72 Joe Viceroy $ 14,600
73 Al Ardebili $ 14,300
74 Marko Trapani $ 13,400
75 Kathy Griffin $ 13,300
76 Chuck Pacheco $ 12,700
77 Philippe Rouas $ 12,600
78 Tony Ma $ 12,400
79 Jeannette Crandall $ 11,500
80 Ben Roberts $ 11,100
81 Doug Carli $ 11,100
82 David Welch $ 10,900
83 Farzad Bonyadi $ 10,300
84 Orlando Maldonado $ 10,100
85 Bart Hansa $ 9,900
86 David Cossio $ 9,800
87 Mark Tenner $ 9,100
88 Adrian de Carteret $ 8,600
89 Neil Wright $ 8,500
90 Marco Traniello $ 6,100
91 Dick Van Patten $ 5,800
92 Karina Jett $ 5,600
93 Charlie Donaldson $ 5,300
94 Andy Simpson $ 5,300
95 Danny Smith $ 4,600
96 David Levi $ 3,200
97 Mike Matusow $ 2,300
98 Steve Mould $ 2,100
See you at 6pm.

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